The spring has remained a busy time for college wrestling programs.
A rash of transfers have created roster turnover more than almost any other offseason. In the wake of Team USA’s success with a team title at the 2018 World Championships and the United World Wrestling’s World Cup championship in April at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, more eyes have been focused on the U.S. World Team Trials for all divisions.
Iowa’s roster has changed since placing third at the NCAA Championships in March. The Hawkeyes landed highly-touted Austin DeSanto, who transferred after a strong freshman campaign at Drexel. DeSanto fills an immediate need, wrestling at the only weight (133) Iowa didn’t qualify for nationals. He is also much more than just a body. DeSanto was the seventh seed and reached the quarterfinals.
DeSanto wasn’t the only lower-weight addition by the Hawkeyes. Iowa received a verbal commitment from three-time state medalist and Minnesota state champion Aaron Cashman, a former U.S. Cadet World Team member. Cashman skipped his senior season and trained at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“After much thought, I am happy to announce that I have decided to further my academic and athletic career at the University of Iowa,” Cashman posted on Twitter May 29.
— Aaron Cashman (@aaron_cashman) May 29, 2018
It will be interesting to see if Iowa adds any more bodies. FloWrestling has reported the Hawkeyes are pursuing former Nebraska NCAA qualifier Jason Renteria. He asked for a release to transfer from the Cornhuskers, competing at 133 as a true freshman. Renteria was a former Iowa commit as a prep before changing his mind and ending up in Lincoln.
But, DeSanto and Cashman solidify the lower weights for Iowa, which welcomes redshirt freshman Jacob Warner to 197 and Cash Wilcke’s drop to 184, joining NCAA qualifier Mitch Bowman.
An intriguing change could come in the middle of the order.
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Two-time NCAA qualifier Joey Gunther apparently has decided to transfer to Illinois. He had competed with Kaleb Young for the starting spots at 165 and 174 pounds the last two seasons.
With his return to his home state and Kaleb Young’s recent third-place finish at 74 kilograms (163 pounds) at the U23 World Team Trials, it makes a scenario of Michael Kemerer’s move to 174 pounds next season seem plausible.
Jeremiah Moody and Young have had success in freestyle, including Moody’s U.S. Open freestyle title at 74 kg in Las Vegas. Iowa’s lineup could have Moody or Young at 157, All-American Alex Marinelli holding down 165 again and the exciting and versatile Kemerer jump to 174.
UNI lands transfer
Northern Iowa added a notable transfer as well. The Panthers will add former Oklahoma State wrestler Keegan Moore to the roster for next season. Moore will join older brother, Paden, at UNI. Their older brother, Cooper, was a multiple NCAA qualifier for the Panthers.
Keegan Moore was a three-time Minnesota state champion. He went 18-10 at 184 pounds in his redshirt freshman season, going 0-2 at the national tournament in March.
The younger Moore provides depth in the upper weights that includes All-Americans Drew Foster (184) and Jacob Holschlag (197) and NCAA qualifier Taylor Lujan at 174.
Final X series
In a new format to determine the U.S. World Team, the Final X Series will consist of best-of-three series at three different sites. Familiar faces with Iowa ties will be competing at Lincoln, Neb., and State College, Pa.
Returning silver medalist Thomas Gilman, fellow Hawkeye Wrestling Club member Alli Ragan and former Iowa State NCAA champion and Waterloo prep Kyven Gadson will compete at Nebraska’s Bob Devaney Center on June 9.
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Gilman will attempt to retain his 125.5-pound spot against Oklahoma State freshman Daton Fix, who beat former Hawkeye Tony Ramos at the World Team Trials qualifier. Fix is a 2017 Junior World champ and has won World bronze medals at the Junior and Cadet level.
Gadson will face World and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder at 213. Gadson, a member of the U.S. National Team and World Cup Team alternate, qualified by winning the World Team Trials challenge tournament.
Ragan, a 2017 World silver medalist, will defend her spot at 132 against Jenna Burkert in women’s freestyle.
At Penn State’s Rec Hall on June 16, former Ballard prep Rachel Watters will face veteran Erin Clodgo to represent the U.S. World Team at 159. Watters qualified for the final bouts with a title at the World Team Trials challenge tournament at Rochester, Minn., in May.
The remaining matches will be held at Lehigh’s Grace Hall in Bethlehem, Pa., on June 23.
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